How Autonomous Air Cargo can Expand the Reach of Expedited Logistics

Elroy Air
5 min readFeb 16, 2019

When we discuss new technology we often gravitate towards the “What?” “ is that new thing, and does it do?” The features of a new product typically take center stage, and the “ Why?” is secondary. We have decided to introduce ourselves and our goals by focusing on the Why?” which ultimately guides the “What? “ that we are building.

There are 3 primary reasons why we are developing an autonomous vertical takeoff and landing (VTOL) air cargo system:

  1. We believe that access to express shipping improves quality of life and economic opportunities for people, and should be available to everyone
  2. We believe that now is the moment in history when autonomous VTOL aircraft can be developed to expand the reach of air cargo at scale — the enabling technology is ready, and regulators are onboard to help
  3. We believe that our specialized team of aerospace engineers, industrial designers, computer scientists, supply chain experts and entrepreneurs will develop the definitive air logistics systems of the future

Logistics as a modern human right
Transportation is the lifeline to cities big and small. In developed areas with strong logistics infrastructure, we take this transportation for granted: Next-day delivery in urban metros feels as natural and dependable as a public utility, more like electricity or running water than a luxury — and in these places rapid logistics gets used a lot, vastly improving quality of life. However, populations living in cities and towns without reliable transportation networks are at a disadvantage. In these areas, the difficulty of getting both basic necessities and modern goods slows economic development and can cause health crises when a natural disaster or extreme weather diminishes access to shipping.

Many of the most thriving and successful cities in human history were aided by their ability to trade, which depends on the efficient, reliable transportation of goods. Even today in 2019 there are vast regions and huge populations of people worldwide that are at a disadvantage due to slow, inefficient logistics [ source].

At Elroy Air, we have set out to improve access to critical goods worldwide by expanding the reach of air cargo. To do this we are developing safe, autonomous aircraft systems that can bypass challenging conditions on the ground such as poor roads, difficult terrain, oceans and fjords — to unlock the logistics potential of the sky. Our autonomous aircraft can fly 24 hours a day, allowing shipments of goods to be delivered rapidly to any location, around the clock.

Responsive disaster relief
Around the globe, 70,000+ people lose their lives each year from the effects of natural disaster, and climate change is on track to increase this number. Between floods, fires, hurricanes, extreme temperatures and earthquakes over 569 million people were negatively impacted by natural disasters in 2016 [ source]. There are critical hours after a disaster event when casualties can be minimized simply by getting people the needed supplies rapidly. It is often difficult to transport essential goods — food, water, medical supplies — during these crucial moments.

Elroy air is building an autonomous end-to-end aerial delivery system optimized to minimize the risk to human lives and reduce transport times in disaster relief scenarios. Our vehicle will fly bulk goods on short timeframes to remote locations and populations in need. We know that natural disasters are inevitable, but we believe we can help reduce the number of lives that are lost during these tragic moments.

Expediting shipping for everyone
Amazon is setting a new standard for logistical performance potential. The resulting “Amazon effect” has created a higher set of expectations around the world for logistics — consumers in urban areas are now accustomed to same day, next-day, and 2-day options for receiving goods. This capability improves quality of life for the populations enjoying the benefits, and has raised the bar for every shipper trying to keep up or develop a differentiated offering.

Consumers worldwide want to know: how quickly can I receive the items I bought? They don’t want to wait days or weeks to receive their goods, and we don’t think they should have to.

Expedited shipping is now reaching new heights, with 25 million parcel packages shipped every day in the United States. The same-day delivery market has recently grown from $40 million to $4 billion — a 100X increase in less than 5 years! [ source] Express Logistics spend worldwide now exceeds $140 billion. Our autonomous aerial cargo systems are uniquely designed to enable shippers to keep up with growing demand in the expedited shipping market.

How do Elroy Air’s VTOL cargo aircraft systems expand the reach of air cargo?

  • Our aircraft is not slowed by traffic, terrain, or automotive speed limits.
  • Our efficient hybrid gas-electric powertrain results in long-range flights, lower emissions than traditional aircraft, and zero reliance on expensive battery-charge infrastructure.
  • Autonomy on the ground and in the air enables expanded operational hours and minimal staffing requirements, with 24/7 delivery capabilities.

That’s the why — we’re excited to serve people worldwide by improving logistical performance with our aerial cargo systems. So “ What” exactly are we building?

We are developing autonomous aircraft systems to deliver goods to both the world’s most remote places and across traffic-choked urban metros, and everywhere in-between. Building on the same powertrain and perception technology enabling today’s hybrid, electric, and autonomous vehicles, our vertical-takeoff-and-landing (VTOL) cargo transport systems can operate outside of airport infrastructure and they carry 500 lbs of cargo over 300 miles.

There’s a lot more about our systems that we don’t have room to detail in this post. We’ve developed a unique approach to cargo handling that streamlines pickup and dropoff, to enable rapid turnaround and high throughput logistics. We look forward to sharing more details in time.

Our Chaparral aircraft prototype at a testing location in 2019

What’s next?
Our mission is to improve the quality of life around the planet by expanding the reach of air cargo — safely, efficiently and autonomously. With the support of our investors and development partners, we will be launching Chaparral systems in the coming years with a small number of shippers in select locations around the world. As we continue to grow each delivery will be a step closer to a better, more connected future.

- The Elroy Air Team

p.s. Do you share our enthusiasm for shaping the future of logistics? Want to be a part what we’re doing at Elroy Air? Drop us a line! You can reach Elroy Air’s management directly at

Originally published at on February 16, 2019.



Elroy Air

Our mission at Elroy Air is to enable same-day shipping to every person on the planet.